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Time for Cheney to go

By David T. Payne
web posted July 12, 2004

I write this article reluctantly as a longtime supporter of Vice President Dick Cheney. When President Bush chose Cheney as his running mate back in 2000, I believed that Cheney was about the most conservative vice presidential nominee that we could get out of a centrist presidential nominee like Bush. As one of only a precious few conservatives appointed by President Bush to serve as his top lieutenants, I viewed Cheney as one of the stars of the Bush administration.

Dick CheneyFor a longtime, I was willing to look past Cheney's growing list of false assertions and support for dubious and decidedly un-conservative policies. My greatest fear was that were I to call for Cheney's replacement I would risk the appointment by President Bush of a pro-abortion VP, as I had feared would be the case in 2000. For over three years, I observed his misguided embrace of neo-conservatism--an alien philosophy largely shunned by the late former President Ronald Reagan--and his record as chief propagandist for the administration's unprovoked war against Iraq. Ultimately, I concluded that Cheney has become a major hindrance to the re-implementation of a Reaganite policy of conservative realism that puts America's national interests first and simply has to go.

There have been many articles lately that the once laudable conservative-turned-neoconservative Vice President Dick Cheney has become somewhat of a drag on Bush's re-election. One of the best was one by John Gannon in USA Today entitled, "Cheney needs to step aside for good of Bush, party", appealing to Cheney to do the best thing for his President and his party and take himself out of the running for the 2004 GOP Vice Presidential nomination. But Gannon's proposed replacements of centrist Senator John McCain or liberal former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, are both more liberal than Cheney and indeed Bush himself and accordingly would unavoidably serve to alienate the President's conservative electoral base.

According to an article in WorldNetDaily.com last month, Giuliani leads the list of those being considered by the White House as a possible replacement to Cheney a prospect that should strike terror into the hearts of social conservatives given his outspoken support for partial birth abortion, gay rights and other social evils. According to the article, Cheney has been involved in the discussions and is open to the idea if it would help position a Republican replacement for Bush in the 2008 presidential election. Given Cheney's poor health, he does not offer the Grand Old Party, the possibility of him serving as a presidential frontrunner for the 2008 elections and the heir-apparent to Bush something that the increasingly divided GOP badly needs whether or not Bush is re-elected in November.

Giuliani still enjoys the popularity from his response to the 9-11 suicide bombing attacks resulting in the deaths of nearly 3,000 American civilians, that Bush enjoyed for nearly a year after the attacks, but subsequently squandered with his unprovoked invasion of Iraq and ensuing scandals over the apparent non-existence of alleged Iraqi WMD that the President told us served as his primary reason for the invasion. But Giuliani agrees with liberal Democrats on far more issues than he does with conservative Republicans having gone so far as to endorse liberal Democrat icon, former New York Governor Mario Cuomo for an unprecedented fourth term in 1994.

Yet another article in the Washington Times called for Cheney's replacement by the President's National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice, who is a pro-abortion moderate and thus another non-starter for conservatives. This article also restates a growing view among GOP partisans that Cheney has become a drag on President Bush's re-election prospects. The Vice President has proven himself unable to control his temper when he recently told Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to "f….off!" in the hallowed halls of the United States Senate and refused to apologize for the inappropriate and decidedly un-Christian use of this pejorative. The Times article asks whether Cheney would erupt in a stream of profanity if, as will most certainly be the case, Kerry's Vice Presidential running mate restates Cheney's well-known Halliburton connections/corruptions in an attempt to provoke Cheney to "blow his stack." Such an incident could surely have the potential for docking Bush a few percentage points which could mean the difference between victory and defeat in what promises to be another perilously close election.

Despite the fact that President Bush has received his all-time low approval ratings as low as 42 per cent in some polls taken during the past month, Cheney is even less liked by the American people. President Bush has given Cheney too much power and influence prompting many analysts to describe Cheney as "the real power behind the throne" before 9-11, an assessment that remains generally valid. He was at the forefront of the Iraq war debacle and all the administration deceptions that half resulted in a significant loss of trust by the American people for their President impairing Bush's previous reputation for honesty and trustworthiness.

It was Cheney, who serves the neocon ringleader in the Bush administration, who advised Bush to invade Iraq against wiser voices in and out of uniform (including a very distinguished list of current and former three and four star generals and purportedly the entire Joint Chiefs of Staff) who warned the President of the myriad of dangers and potential blowback were he to do so -- warnings which have since proven prescient. According to the most CNN-US Today-Gallup poll, Americans believe that the Iraq war has made them less safe from terrorist attacks by a margin of 55-37 per cent and believe that the unprovoked invasion of Iraq was a mistake by a ten point margin.

While Cheney brought strong foreign policy and defense credentials to the Bush presidential ticket that were lacking in both four years ago, Bush, as the longtime leader of America's "global war on terrorism", no longer needs such credentials and certainly does not benefit from Cheney's widely-publicized status as a draft-dodger during Vietnam as opposed to Kerry who volunteering to serve in Vietnam to avoid the draft when he found out that his number was about to come up. Also Cheney hails from the state of Wyoming, which is perhaps the least populous state in the Union with a grand total of three electoral votes not that Bush would risk losing Wyoming if Cheney were not on the ticket. I can't think of a single GOP presidential nominee in the past several decades who has lost the state of Wyoming. So Cheney does not seem to add anything to the Bush ticket.

Given the fact that he has served as a lightning rod for Democrat criticism with his bogus arguments that Iraq was producing nuclear weapons, had massive stocks of WMD and had comprehensive links to al-Qaida as reported by since discredited Iranian intelligence asset and longtime neocon darling, Ahmed Challabi, Cheney should withdraw from the race. The fact that all of the aforementioned claims that have all been conclusively proven false does not seem to register with a stubborn neocon like Cheney who continues to argue these same things many months later. In addition, the fact that Cheney's former company Halliburton got the lion's share of the Iraq reconstruction contracts at a time when they are depositing $1 million big ones a year in a bank account to be collected by Cheney upon his retirement from public office is indeed fair game for Democratic criticism and does not merit a profane response from the Vice President.

Clearly then, Cheney must be dropped from the ticket not only because he is a drag on the President's re-election prospects, but because it is time for him to make way for a younger and more conservative, but not neoconservative leader who can position himself to be the frontrunner in the next presidential election in 2008 regardless of whether Bush wins or loses. Most GOP political strategists now belatedly admit that had Bush rejected Cheney's advice and not invaded Iraq, he would be coasting to a comfortable re-election against Democrat presidential nominee John Kerry right now, who would otherwise be following in the tradition of his namesake from the 1995 alien action-flick Species as a walking political corpse. Keeping Cheney on the GOP presidential ticket is simply not worth risking the otherwise avoidable and decidedly nightmarish prospect of a narrow Democrat takeover of the White House and perhaps given only modest Kerry presidential coattails of the United States Senate as well this November.

David T. Pyne can be reached at pyne@national-security.org. David T. Pyne, Esq. is a national security expert who serves as President of the Center for the National Security Interest, a national security think-tank based in Arlington, VA. Mr. Pyne is a licensed attorney and former United States Army Officer. He holds an MA in National Security Studies from Georgetown University. Mr. Pyne also serves as President of the Virginia Republican Assembly. He also serves as a Contributing Editor to DefenseWatch magazine and to Soldiers for the Truth. He has been invited to appear on CNBC and was recently invited to serve as an occasional Fox News commentator to express his views on assorted national security issues. He has also been interviewed on assorted radio-talk shows. © 2004 David T. Pyne

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